Enforcement of anti-drug driving laws is soon to become much easier, after the Government announced official limits for a range of illicit and prescription drugs, following a consultation process.
Recommended maximum limits for driving have been approved for 16 different drugs, including cocaine (10mg per litre of breath), cannabis (2mg) and LSD (1mg).
The maximum levels for amphetamines and methadone have been set higher, at 50mg and 500mg respectively, to give some leeway to prescription drug users.
The move will allow the police to test drivers they suspect of drug driving at the roadside using specially designed ‘spitalyser’ devices, which work in a similar manner to the breathalyser used to detect drink-driving.
"This new offence will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs."
Drivers found to be over the limit will be treated in the same manner as drink drivers, and will face a court appearance and a driving ban.
Currently, police must take suspected drivers to the station, and use a qualified medical professional to conduct a blood test before any prosecution can occur.
Road safety minister Robert Goodwill said: "The results of the consultation is sending the strongest possible message that you cannot take illegal drugs and drive.
"This new offence will make our roads safer for everyone by making it easier for the police to tackle those who drive after taking illegal drugs.
"It will also clarify the limits for those who take medication."
The Institution of Advanced Motorists welcomed the news. Its Policy and Research director, Neil Greig, said: "The IAM is pleased that the government is moving significantly closer to finalising the process of setting limits for drugs and driving.
“Now that the consultation process is almost over and the correct limits have been agreed for each drug the police can finally get on with actually catching those who risk their own and others lives by driving under the influence of chemical substances."